Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dog Tags

E gave me a beautiful necklace. Originally, the intention behind the gift was that it was to be my "push present" - incidentally, a concept that we had a few good laughs about during my pregnancy, the idea that I needed a present (other than a baby, of course) for doing something I was so excited to do...and the idea that somehow a diamond would be my "reward" for hard work - it just seemed a little silly...but sentimental, I suppose.

E gave me my gifts just minutes after Otis was born, and minutes after he had been whisked away to the NICU. A beautiful ring with a blue stone, a gold O encircling the stone. It was purposefully bought quite large, to fit my oversized sausage fingers. (And a whole nother story in that ring - the comfort it brought me in the day to come, and the security it continues to bring to me today...) A necklace with a charm - "brave warrior goddess," the charm said. (And now I'm having momentary panic/anxiety - where is that charm?) And finally, the "real" gift - a deposit at a local jeweler to go and pick out a necklace commemorating Otis' birth. Her work is lovely, and I'd always admired it. Her necklaces are a bit like dog tags, charms with your child's name hand-engraved, but so beautiful, so elegant, so simple and lovely.

The week after he died, we had an appointment at the hospital for my first of many awful, agonizing appointments trying to "fix" all my postpartum issues (recurrent UTIs, bladder nerve damage, abdominal muscle pain) and afterwards, E suggested we go check in at the jeweler to pick out my charm and my necklace.

"HEY! Did you have your baby?" the beautiful, creative, mother-of-two jeweler called out when she recognized us walking in the store...

Our faces fell. "Umm, yeah," I responded.

"AND?!?" she cried out, that all too familiar look of hope and excitement on her face..

"Umm, he didn't make it." I responded, through a muffled sob-choke-gutteral roar. (I was starting to get used to saying it. I wished for my imaginary calling card, the ones that speak the truth that I never want to say...but I still managed to get the words out.)

Her face fell.


Then the usual. Stammer. Stutter. Stammer. Oh I'm so sorry. Oh, I'm so sorry. Oh my god, I'm so sorry. And then some variations on those words. And then my obligatory, "thank you."

We settled on a beautiful charm. A rose gold piece with his name in a simple script on the front, his birth date on the back. She offered that she then would add a small birthstone, a raw sapphire, to the necklace as well.

It should be ready in two to three weeks, she told us.

Two to three weeks. Though I knew our wounds would still be raw and painful, I assumed or imagined that I'd be in at least a slightly easier place by then. Though others had cautioned "It gets harder" I assumed I'd be different somehow. How could it possibly be any harder than what I was feeling at that moment? How could a bottomless pit get any deeper?

The necklace arrived last week. (Coincidentally, we got the call that it was ready while I was waiting at the hospital for yet another prescription pick up for one of my many aforementioned postpartum ailments. I'm ready for my body to begin cooperating with me, is that too much to ask?)

The necklace is beautiful. Simple. I love wearing his name so close to my heart. My hands nervously fidget with the piece throughout each day. At the end of the day, I take the necklace off and whisper my prayers to my boy. In the morning, I put on the necklace and whisper my wishes to my boy. My tears roll down the metal throughout the day, my postpartum hair, falling out by the handfuls, catches in the necklace by the end of the day.

I knew I would love wearing his name so close. I knew I would love having this piece to wear. What I didn't anticipate, and what I love perhaps the most, is how the raw sapphire that the jeweler chose to add jingles as it hits the metal of the name piece. It makes a little sound, much like how a dog's tag jingles and you know the dog is in the room with you. (As I write, in fact, Oz's tag is jingling as he scritches behind his ear...and jingling in perfect timing with me explaining this...)

And everytime I hear the jingle, just like that, Otis is there with me. My baby boy. My sweet, sweet, magnificent, beautiful baby boy. The necklace rings throughout the day - bending down to pick up dog poop while out with the dogs on our evening walk Hi Otis. Standing up off the sofa to answer the door Hi Otis. Getting out of the car Hi Otis

Of course, he's always on my mind, sure. But the jingles seem to hit at these least expected moments, moments when I'm not already caught in thought about him, and they bring him back. It's like he's there, ringing a doorbell, calling out to me, Hi Mama.

It's a poor consolation prize, of course. But at this point, I take what I can get.


Anonymous said...

Oh precious Sarah- this is beautiful. I am so glad you are here writing. I imagine the necklace is just breathtaking. His name- such a thing of beauty and so much power in those four letters.
I am here walking with you in so many ways and so honored that you are sharing....
love and grace always- Leslie

æ said...

I'm here Sarah. I love you.

It is such a beautiful necklace.


Alex said...

Lovely Sarah, thanks for letting me know about the blog. I am here. I'm here always, and I'll be reading along, waking with you, loving you, loving Otis.

The necklace sounds so beautiful.

Love you, Alex

kate said...

Sarah, I am here - reading your words, loving you so much and crying fresh tears... Your writing is so raw and honest. Thank you for sharing Otis and yourself with me. It is a gift.

Kate xx

Lani said...

my brother and sister law had a beautiful necklace made for me that says silas' name on it. i also have a little lotus flower, and om & a beautiful hawk charm all hanging from the same chain. I too love having Silas' name close to my heart. I am constantly touching my charms and loving the jangling sound they make together. 2 years later and this sound is what soothes me.